Aurora’s Latino Community responds to theater massacre


By McKenzie Romero

In Aurora, Colo., which by community estimates is more than a third Latino, none of the 12 midnight moviegoers killed in the July 20 Century 16 Theater massacre were Latino. Nor were the several initially identified in media accounts as injured. No official list of the 59 hospitalized by 24-year-old gunman James Holmes was immediately released.

Aurora’s Latino community was quick, however, to reach out to survivors.

David Sánchez told the story of his daughter and son-in-law in theater 9 when James Holmes opened fire.

Caleb Medely, Sánchez’s son-in-law, remains in a coma following a gunshot to the head. His wife Katie, Sánchez’s 21-year-old daughter, gave birth to a son July 24 in the same hospital.

The Medely’s story became widespread when Sánchez spoke to reporters outside the Arapahoe County Courthouse about Holmes’ court appearance and his daugther’s experience. He called the suspect’s eyes “demonic.”

Among Aurora’s Latino community, many churches and community organizations are reaching out to any seeking counseling, including the Queen of Peace Catholic Church. The church is one of Aurora’s largest and is about two miles away from the Century 16 movie theater.

The church serves about 7,000 families in the Aurora area and about 50% of the congregation is Hispanic, according to Queen of Peace business manager Steve Loftis. Queen of Peace has kept to its regular mass schedule and is helping to coordinate grief counseling for any community members seeking help.

Loftis said no members of the Latino congregation were injured in the shooting, although some of the church’s members remain hospitalized.

The Rose Community Foundation and its Latino Community Foundation out of Denver will be waiting in the wings to provide counseling to Aurora residents, law enforcement or anyone else requesting support.

“We went through something similar with Columbine,” said Sheila Bugdanowitz, the foundation’s president.

“It’s a complicated time for organizations. Everyone wants to help (Aurora residents), but they don’t even know what they need from us.”

Yolanda Quesada, managing director of the Community Latino Foundation, called Aurora, an area where 95 different languages are spoken in public schools, “one of the most diverse metro areas” in Colorado.

“Even organizations working with immigrants will be working with all kinds of immigrant groups,” she said.

Morning-after coverage online included a story by New America Media reporting that immigrant communities in Aurora had “panicked” as they sought to get word about the victims. However, a Denver-based reporter quoted in the story said in his blog that the article did not paint an accurate picture.

Francisco Miraval, a reporter with Vision 21, said much media coverage was “distorted” and that panic among immigrants “never happened.”

3 thoughts on “Aurora’s Latino Community responds to theater massacre

  1. Excellent article by McKenzie Romero!

    It is great to see journalists from the Latino community coming out and setting the record straight. This vigilance is needed to counter the reports that often go unchallenged, perpetuating the negative comments made by mainstream media. I’m surprised by the inaccurate reporting of New America Media, which is basically a minority news service.

    I’m proud to see the new young talent emerging from the Hispanic community, who are proving that they possess great journalism skills, and who will insure the stories of the future concerning the Latino community will be told accurately!

    Three cheers for Ms Romero!

    Joe Ortiz

  2. I have waited days to catch up with reaction from Aurora’s Spanish surname/cultural community. Here in Omaha, there is the same issues of mis-reporting by dominant media sources. The two Spanish language and Latino oriented publications are more shopping/.gossip publications, with little hard news de la Raza, leaving that task to the one paper in town. I have often wondered since this horrific action took place in Aurora, why there was only victims with English surnames? Was it because Batman was not a draw in the Latino community? Was it because Latinos did not feel welcomed in this theatre complex ? With recent urban riots by Spanish surname/culture gente in Oakland and Anaheim, I find myself wanting to know more about racial/social relationships in your fair City motivated by the lack of Latino victims as a result of this horrific attack on the populace.

  3. Hello, McKenzie.

    Thanks, indeed, for clarifying the fact that there was no panic among Latinos in metro Denver a week ago on occasion of the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora. It is true that earlier reports about the ethnicity of the alleged shooter created confusion, but not panic.

    It is also true I received a phone call from New American Media, but it was to inquire about my well-being. The call was similar to many other calls from colleagues, friends, and organizations wanting to know that I was OK.

    If you or any reader needs additional information, feel free to contact me.

    Many thanks for your story.



    Prof. Francisco Miraval
    Project Vision 21, Founder and Owner
    Bilingual Journalism and Consulting Services
    18121 E. Hampden Avenue 120-C Aurora, CO 80013
    Phone: 720-936-1769 Fax: 303-755-8252

Leave a Reply